Tesla begins sales of cheapest yet Model 3 car variant in China

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range dropped from online configurator

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In a blog post late Thursday, Tesla said customers wanting the $35,000 version of the Model 3 would have to make the purchase by phone or in person at one of its stores.

Tesla announced a series of changes to its vehicle lineup and pricing, including making it tougher to buy its newly available entry-level $35 000 auto.

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The Model 3 Standard Range Plus will lease for $504 a month, with $3,000 down for 36 months, with 10,000 miles per year There's a caveat: Lessees can't buy out their cars at the end of the lease.

If you take a look at the US configurator for the Model 3, you'll notice three options (Standard Range Plus with RWD, Long Range AWD, and Performance AWD) and a starting price of $39,500 before savings.

A software-limited Standard Plus means the range is reduced by 10 percent and onboard music streaming service, navigation with live traffic visualization, and heated seats features are disabled. More changes happened this week and it's now no longer possible to buy the $35,000 Model 3 online. Because there are six times as many Standard Range Plus customers, you'll need to call or visit a Tesla store to place an order for the Standard Range.

Tesla's announcement also said it would begin leasing the Model 3, but would not offer customers the option to buy the cars after their leases expired, a departure from the typical industry practice and its own policy on other models. The minimum deposit is $3,000, but the payment due at signing will vary from $4,199 to $4,584 depending on the variant. That likely puts the Model 3 Standard Range's price at about $37,000 or possibly $38,000. Most vehicle leases give you the option to buy the auto outright at the end of the lease period, but not Tesla. Notably, leasers won't have the option to purchase their vehicle at the end of the lease as Tesla aims to repurpose them for its future ride-hailing network.